Many more BSF boots worn by women will slam hard on the ground that divides India and Pakistan. The Border Security Force (BSF) is set to include more women in the daily retreat ceremony at Wagah border — which has emerged as a key tourist attraction in Punjab — as part of the force’s bid to involve more women personnel in border duties.
“We always advocated strengthening the role of women personnel in the retreat ceremony and, accordingly, two of them were included in the contingent of the retreat ceremony with the consent of the neighbouring country,” inspector general (IG) of BSF Punjab Frontier, Aditya Mishra, told Hindustan Times.
After their deployment, public enthusiasm in the ceremony increased, which could be seen from the eagerness of visitors wanting to get photographed with the participating women personnel, the IG said.
“For the last three years, the BSF has recruited a good number of women personnel, who are even performing active duties to guard the Indo-Pak border,” he said. “Now we want to strengthen their role in the retreat ceremony also.”
He said senior BSF officers had been told about the plan, and the issue would be discussed with the Pakistan Rangers in the next meeting between the two sides scheduled to be held within two months.
Once a month an entire contingent of women personnel would perform the retreat ceremony, he said.
“According to government policy, the role of women in the armed forces is set to increase,” he said, adding that the target was that women recruits form 20% of the total strength of various security forces.
Since it is only in the Punjab Frontier that the BSF is recruiting women personnel, the force has to deal with issues like posting of couples at the same place in case both are in the force, and entrusting of light duties during pregnancy, he said.
Expansion plans on course
Unveiling the expansion plan of the area of retreat ceremony at Wagah border, the IG said that a project of Rs 17 crore had been sanctioned to increase the capacity of the stadium from 3,500 to 7,000 viewers. “The state government was requested to give at least three-acre of land for expansion, which will soon be transferred to the BSF,” Mishra said.
Even at the Hussainiwala border, expansion is planned for which a blueprint to construct a stadium with a capacity of 1,900 spectators at an estimated cost of Rs 16.4 crore has been finalised, he said, adding that work on the project would begin soon and is expected to be completed in a year.